The League of Expat Writer’s has been rather silent for a while. We’re back now! Meagan – an American in South Korea – shares her experience with us.
I moved to South Korea 3.5 years ago and the country stole my heart. I was amazed at how easily I adjusted to life here. The people are so friendly, the food is fantastic and I even met the love of my life here (though he isn’t Korean).
Living in Asia can be challenging at times because it’s very different from the western world. Personally, I try to keep an open mind and embrace the differences. I actually find myself drawn to all of the little quirks of living here. It was hard to narrow it down, but I picked my top 5 quirky things that will make you fall in love with Korea.
One of the cutest things you can find in Korea are the couples (and families) that wear identical outfits. In fact, my neighborhood in Korea has two different shops that sell couple clothes. It’s not unusual to see couples that match from head to toe: hats, shirts, jackets, jeans, shoes, and backpacks. They even sell couple underwear!
When I was teaching I’d often hear the little kids saying, “D-D-O-N-G” which is the Romanization of the word poop in Korean. I thought it was just kids being kids, but I’m pretty sure there’s more to it than that. Poop seems to be everywhere. I found a pair of socks with a cute little pile of cartoon poo on them at the dollar store, but poop isn’t just for decoration on footwear. I’ve seen headbands with a big plush poo on top. Also, in Seoul you can find snacks called poop bread that are shaped like poop with sweetened red bean paste inside.
Recently we went to a museum that was shaped like a toilet and had statues of poop and people pooping surrounding the grounds.
[Bex thinks “Oh dear!”]
Displays of Affection
You won’t see many couples kissing in public in Korea, but Koreans are extremely affectionate. I’m always blown away by how many people that walk around arm-in-arm, holding hands or with their arms around one another… and I’m not talking about couples! When I was a teenager the last thing I would have wanted to be seen doing in public was holing my mom’s hand, but it’s so common here. It’s also really common to see men being affectionate towards one another. When I was teaching elementary/primary age kids it wasn’t unusual for little boys to play with each other’s hair or sit on each other’s laps.
And yet, for a culture that seems to be so prudish (showing cleavage or shoulder is seen as taboo), there are several parks with a very sexual theme. I know of at least three, plus I know of a few penis-themed restaurants and cafes. The most popular sex themed park is Loveland on Jeju Island. Its intention was to teach its visitors about sex education, but some of its sculptures are more bizarre than educational.
Korea has tons of cafes with cute themes. There are princess cafes where you can actually rent dresses and play dress up while you enjoy a refreshing beverage and cat and dog cafes where you can play with the animals. The strangest I’ve ever heard about is a café with a live sheep in Seoul. One of my favorite theme cafes is the Hello Kitty Café. There are at least four of them in Korea, including one in the Incheon International Airport near Seoul.
I honestly wish more people would visit Korea so that they could see the country that I’ve been lucky enough to call my home for the past 3.5 years. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs while being here, but these 5 little quirks always make me smile!
BIO: Meagan is an American that moved to South Korea in 2011 to teach English. While there, she was swept off her feet by an Australian oil and gas expat that turned her into stay-at-home-girlfriend and takes her on amazing adventures all over the world. She blogs all about her travels at Life Outside Of Texas. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.
If you enjoyed this post, why not read about the seven (or more) top things I love about Greece?